As the best-selling female artist in country music history, and one of the best-selling music artists of all time, Shania Twain is going to live on forever – at least in our hearts.
Often referred to as the “Queen of Country Pop”, she conquered the world and became a global superstar in the 90s.
But few know the struggles she has faced in her life. First, she was a poor, starving kid before her breakthrough. Not to mention the fact that her life changed completely at 22 – when an unbearable tragedy forced new responsibilities upon her…
Shania Twain was born Eilleen Regina Edwards in Windsor, Ontario, on August 28, 1965. She would later change her surname when Shania’s mother, Sharon, remarried a man called Jerry Twain.
Since Shania’s biological father wasn’t present during her upbringing, she never publicly acknowledged him as her dad. Instead, Jerry took it upon himself to raise Shania, legally adopting her and her two sisters.
”My father (Jerry) went out of his way to raise three daughters that weren’t even his. For me to acknowledge another man as my father, a man who was never there for me as a father, who wasn’t the one who struggled every day to put food on our table, would have hurt him terribly,” Shania once said.
All things considered, Shania had a difficult childhood. She grew up in poverty in Timmins, rural Canada, and her family was far from wealthy. Her step-father Jerry, a full-blooded Ojibway, had a hard time providing for the family and earned little money.
As a result, Shania and her sisters didn’t always have food on the table. Sometimes, the only thing served was a dish known as “goulash”: dry bread with boiled milk and brown sugar. During the cold winters in Canada, Shania was forced to wear bread bags on her feet because her parents couldn’t afford proper boots.
But as a young girl, she never told anyone about her situation. The future Queen of Country Pop feared that the authorities would break up the family if she spoke up about their hardships.
Meanwhile, the marriage between Sharon and Jerry was also rocky. At one time, Shania convinced her mom to run away from Jerry, so Shania, her mom and her sisters fled to a homeless shelter in Toronto. However, when Shania was 16, her mother returned to Jerry, and they decided to give things another try.
Shania told how she lived in “survivor mode” into her adult years, due to the instability of her childhood home. She didn’t feel that she could rely on her parents to neither protect her or to be consistent caregivers.
Now, when Shania turned eight, she had started singing at bars to help pay the bills at home. It was a daring move for a young girl, and Shania didn’t exactly like doing it. At the same time, though, she could earn as much as $20 a night, a vital economic injection in her struggling family household.